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Manhunt Ends: Suspect Sought for Rape and Murder of One-Year-Old Girl Captured

suspect
WARNER TODD HUSTON
Pittsburgh, PA

Police in Pennsylvania arrested accused child rapist and murderer Joshua Gurto after a manhunt that spread across two states.

Gurto, 37, was finally cornered in Pittsburgh early on Friday morning. He was arrested without resistance and taken to the Allegheny County Jail. Police found him armed with a knife and said he had been reduced to sleeping in the woods to avoid the dragnet.

“We made Gurto’s world very, very small. He really had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said.

The suspect was being sought for the rape and murder of 13-month-old Sereniti Jazzlyn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley who was found beaten to death on October 7. Police say the child suffered massive blunt-force trauma to the head and upper body.

“I feel very bad for Sereniti’s family. Nobody should have to lose a child to violence.” said Elliott, the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio.

After her daughter’s death, Kelsie Blankenship, told WKYC Channel 3 she was despondent over her daughter’s brutal murder. “I’ve been bawling my eyes out all day,” she said. “She was a precious girl. She brought me a reason to live.”

Gurto had access to the child because he was living with the victim’s mother in an apartment in Conneaut, Ohio, a city northeast of Cleveland.

When arrested, Gurto was dressed in camouflage and had maps of New Jersey and Pennsylvania in his backpack. Authorities also say he had been seen in several times before his arrest.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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